Birthday Chorlton – Tormore 28 year 42.4%

When David Bennet sent his summer 2021 email letting his devoted Chorlton followers know about this Tormore 28-year, I simply couldn’t resist! At that time, I had tried only one whisky from Tormore – a very special 10 year from the 1970s at Singapore Whisky Live’s Collectors Room. More recently in 2022, I had the pleasure to try the Tormore 29-year bottled by Gordon & Macphail at London’s Whisky Show.

While we had to be a bit patient to try this Tormore 28-year, we made it count! It was sampled over four evenings, of which below I’ve captured an amalgam of impressions from some.

Tormore 28 year (Nov 1992/Jul 2021) 42.45% 253 bottles

What did we think of this dram – contrasting our experiences between a fine fall evening in London vs two warm evenings in Mumbai…

  • Nose
    • London: Incredibly rich, beautiful nose, sunshine sweetness, fruity marmalade, apple crumble pastry, heavy on the cinnamon and brown sugar… as it opened up, there was also light saline, shifting into something heavier… like wandering into a forest, faintly mineral, wet stone, then shifted again into brazil nut, buttery, red food coloring
    • Mumbai: Very salty, metallic, some kelp or seaweed, misty, cold water from a copper jug, slowly opened and sweetened into gingerbread, lebkuchen, candied ginger, followed by fruits, minute by minute becoming “jammier”- starting with plum jam then sweetening into a melange of strawberry and raspberry, like that mystery red jelly that you aren’t quite sure what exactly it is!
  • Palate
    • London: Exceptional! Silky smooth, hot buttery biscuits, a bit nutty too… gorgeous… was there even a puff of smoke too?
    • Mumbai: Honey, ginger, wood tannins, walnut, orange rind, light smoke…. utterly lovely! Light yet complex, very open and approachable, boiled lemon sweets
  • Finish – Very dry, long, and lingers bitter almond
  • Water
    • London: No temptation to add!
    • Mumbai: Brings out a bar of lovely milk chocolate on the nose… needed? No. But still worth trying this way too…
  • Revisit – Fab fruity with nutty caramel – yum!!

One of our ladies in Mumbai had tried this earlier in the year in London and noted there was some impact of oxidation between the freshly opened bottle she tried and our evening in November, where some elements had muted and shifted.

For myself, I recall the first experience just a month earlier in London as simply stunning – one class act! I could just sit with this whisky alone… savoring it slowly. Remarkable. Lovely… Pure delight in a glass!

What was most appealing is how it developed in the glass – from maritime to mineral to marmalade on the nose, silky smooth, light yet complex on the palate, and closing with a strong, long, dry bitter finish. Simply superb!

There was no doubt this is indeed a special treat – rare and worthy of slowing down to enjoy.

What did David have to say?

Properly matured single malt here from the reliably fruity Tormore distillery!

On the nose this is a real fruit basket (red apples, orange drops, marmalade, juicy Riesling), backed with some mineralic and foresty depth (waxes, flints and ferns). The palate is lightly syrupy and waxy, with cream teas and biscuits mixed in with the fruits. The finish is very clean, with blood oranges and mandarins. Very summery, and utterly delicious.

This whisky was distilled on the 16th November 1992, and matured in a refill hogshead until being bottled in July 2021. It produced 253 bottles at a cask strength of 42.4% and they are available for £175 each.

I purchased this in July 2021 which joined three more from La Nouvelle Vague series:

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Chorlton Birthday Drams – Glen Elgin, Tormore, Orkney, Bunnahabhain

This Chorlton quartet was the birthday gift that just kept giving! It began as a single bottle purchased as an extra special 60th birthday gift. Then the other Bombay Malt & Cigar gents offered to ‘chip in’, so I purchased another 2 bottles. The trio was then augmented with an additional bottle to become a remarkable quartet!

All four were from the La Nouvelle Vague series:

The quartet was originally opened in June 2022 in London during a special evening with Sukhinder Singh (Elixir, The Whisky Exchange) and two Bombay Malt & Cigar gents (naturally including the “birthday boy!). As I missed it, we rescheduled for October 2022, also in London, sharing with a former Bombay Whisky Lady and other friends.

However, our tastings with these bottles weren’t done! Two sets of 100ml samples were re-bottled and dispatched to Mumbai for two evenings:

  • Whisky Ladies on November 1 as a special joint birthday treat for myself and one other Whisky Lady (sharing the same birthday) who flew in from Hyderabad… the only challenge here was splitting 100ml between 8 ladies!
  • Bombay Malt & Cigar gents on Nov 6 to share with the others who were intended to be part of the original 60th birthday celebration that inspired the whole set! Which just so happened to also be my partner’s birthday (who joined us for dinner)

It was so interesting to see the commonalities and differences between the tasting sessions! Different settings, different personalities, and different whisky style preferences meant we could experience different dimensions. What an incredibly rewarding way to experience such lovely and varied whiskies!

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Remarkable Gordon + Macphail Whisky Ranges

Gordon & Macphail is in a class of their own – with a 125-year history – they are no mere “indie bottler”… With long-term relationships with distilleries, an impressive set-up of their own casks, legendary warehouses with an exceptional range of old and very rare whiskies, this is one area at any whisky show you shouldn’t miss!

So what did we try at the London Whisky Show?

We began with the Discovery range, a newer series launched to introduce accessible, affordable single malts to the world:

  • Green for ex-bourbon casksGlenallachie 14 year 43%This ex-bourbon cask was a nice contrast to the current GlenAllachie sherry or cask finish styles
  • Purple for ex-sherry casksBunnahabhain 11 year 43%A solid expression
  • Grey/off-white for smokey/peaty – Caol Ila 13 year 43% – Skipped as was a bit early for peat!

We then progressed to the Gordon & Macphail’s Distillery Labels with Ardmore with a whiff of sea breeze, soft peat, and sweet!

From there, we got serious with their Connoisseurs Choice range, which has been a consistent series from Gordon & Macphail since 1968. We’ve tried many remarkable drams in this series which showcases various distillery spirits matured in Gordon & Macphail’s own barrels. At Whisky Live 2022, we tried:

We thought this would be the end of our journey…. however then our fabulous Gordon & Macphail’s guide shared a pair from their exceptionally rare Private Collection with:

Wow, wow, wow! What an amazing journey through some fabulous whiskies! And a very clear reminder of why Gordon & Macphail are worthy of slowing down and spending time exploring…

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London Whisky Show – Gordon + Macphail Connoisseurs Choice

Next up in our Gordon & Macphail tastings at the London Whisky Show were offerings from their Connoisseurs Choice range…

We’ve enjoyed several very special whiskies from this range! Including those we tried in London Oct 2022…

Old Pulteney 23 year (2008/ 28 Apr 2022) Refill Bourbon Barrel Cask No. 17603801 56.6% (G&MP Connoisseurs Choice) Batch 22/101, 243 Bottles

  • Colour – Amber
  • Nose – Joy in a glass! Lovely citrus, honey then coconut, chocolate… shifting into apple sauce
  • Palate – Creamy, full, and luscious. Simply gorgeous
  • Finish – Heavy finish, sweet and lightly spicy
  • Water – Amps up the tropical elements like caramelized bananas

It was endlessly complex… absolutely fabulous! Let’s just say, it was everything I appreciate in Old Pulteney, even more exquisite. 

Our fabulous guide shared a refilled Hogshead, retailing for approx GBP 200. As for the official tasting notes? The label shares the following:

Grapefruit and lemon aromas give way to baked apples and freshly cut grass. Honey and banana flavours are balanced by cracked black pepper. A full finish with mixed nuts.

Would I agree? Absolutely!

Tormore 29 year (1993/ 30 May 2022) 1st fill Sherry Butt Cask 5053 54.5%(G&MP Connoisseurs Choice) Batch 22/109, 554 bottles

  • Colour – Rich dark burgundy
  • Nose – Oh wow! No question this Tormore was matured in an ex-sherry cask. Incredibly intense, rich marmalade, with a berry punch,
  • Palate – A proper, mature sherry, dark fruits, rich chocolate
  • Finish – Candied dried fruit, a dash of cinnamon, heavy, burnt molasses

This is the kind of dram that makes you want to slow down and savour… preferably while lounging on a comfy sofa, curled up with a cosy throw, a good book… and all the time in the world to simply enjoy.

Even after the glass was empty, it left such a beautiful aroma… it was a shame to have such a special whisky in the hustle and bustle of a whisky festival.

What about the official tasting notes? Here is what they have to say:

  • Nose – Stewed RED BERRIES complement VANILLA POD and subtle COCOA POWDER. MEDJOOL DATES give way to DARK TREACLE and notes of soft ANISEED.
  • Taste – BAKED APPLE intertwines with CINNAMON and GINGER SPICE. DARK CHOCOLATE leads to subtle CITRUS FRUIT and CHARRED OAK.
  • Finish – Full with lingering SUMMER BERRIES and soft HERBAL notes.

What did we try next? A pair from the rather remarkable and very rare Private Collection range!!

Curious about some earlier Connoisseurs Choice explorations? Here are a few favourites!

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Flashback to the 1970s… Tormore 10 year 43%

A few exceptions to my Whisky Live Survival Guide approach to sniff, sip and spit was the whiskies in the Collector’s Room.

First up in our selected set was the Tormore 10 year.

This Speyside whisky was a distillery bottling from the mid 1970s… yup you read that correctly, nearly half a century years ago.

For a distillery that only opened in 1958, for a time there were relatively few bottlings to be found – official or otherwise.

However that has changed more recently with a new set of official 14 and 16 year bottlings and select releases of rare older ones like this one.

For example, this particular bottle would set you back a mere £250 – if you can find it.

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Tormore 10 year “Pure Highland Malt” 43%

  • Nose – Rich sherry rum raisins in a very classic style
  • Palate – Super smooth
  • Finish – Finally a proper finish!

It was an enjoyable start to our sampling of rare and exclusive drams.

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Other whiskies sampled in the Collector’s Room included:

PS This whisky came compliments of my Whisky Live Singapore traveling companion – you know who you are and you know how much I appreciated experiencing these discoveries together!

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Whisky Live Singapore – Collectors Room

Whisky Live Singapore has a special ‘Collector’s Room’ where the unique, rare and exclusive whiskies reside.

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Which ones did we chose?

Then had a bonus Bruichladdich 10 year 58%.

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